One of the most fundamental and important aspects to flourishing is to be constantly growing and changing, and to do that we must be exposed to new experiences and ideas. There are a lot of different ways to do this, such as meeting new people, travelling, and challenging yourself, but the one I’m going to focus on in this article is by far one of the easiest: reading.
When we absorb information through the medium of media and text it becomes a part of our experience. The lenses with which we view the world get modified by that which we consume. Personally, I like to be aware of my consumption habits and so I try to take in things that will make me a better person, or more curious, or feel new feelings. Over the course of doing so I’ve come into contact with some fantastic books and so I’d like to share them with you in the hope that they can impact your life as much as they have mine. Seriously, all the books I’m suggesting to you have changed my life for the better in a measurable way – check them out if you can and if you buy them with the links provided you can help support the Vision of Flourisch – please do so!
Before I get into the book recommendations I want to clarify what I mean by reading. If you are reading with the intention of learning new things and applying them to life then simply turning pages won’t be enough – you have to Engage with the information, otherwise none of it will be retained. One of the best ways to do this is take notes as you go and then review them once you finish the book. It only takes a few minutes and your retention goes up significantly. Additionally, if you want to read extra actively, you can write in your own words what you remember from each chapter/the book once you finish it, and how the information is useful to you.
Yeah, look, it’s obvious that I like this book considering my first released article was on the same topic and I mention it constantly. Not without good reason, though, as this work by Angela Duckworth is absolutely phenomenal. It proves to you that you can improve yourself in any field with the concept of Grit, regardless of what the antiquated notion of ‘talent’ suggests. Grit is the universal multi-tool that will inspire you to push yourself to extremes you never thought possible and it’s all backed up by psychology. The four requirements for Grit are saids to be interest, practice, purpose and hope – the interpretation given in my article Here is a little different, but you’ll understand once you’ve read them both. I first read this in the jungles of Ecuador and was so motivated that I wrote non stop for the next 3 days – it has some powerful stuff which affected me deeply and hopefully can do the same to you.
Look. If you don’t read any other book I suggest, read Grit, absorb Grit, live Grit. Please.
I borrowed this book from a friend in my first year of Uni and I’m so happy that I did. This is an accessible introduction to philosophy that contains a lot of wisdom in a few short pages. Not only is it a fairly easy read but it offers you practical frameworks to use when looking at problems in your life. That is to say, if you really take on the concepts that this book is offering you, your brain will be happier for it. Angry? Unpopular? Lonely? This book deals with all these and more. Not only did this book give me an alternative understanding of life, it opened my eyes to a whole world of philosophy that I was missing out on – this book is the gateway drug to questioning the normal and expected order of life, take it.
I was simultaneously recommended this book both by a very close friend of mine and Tim Ferriss on his podcast. I had just finished my degree and had started a job in data entry that was going nowhere and slowly sucking my soul dry. This book got me through. The recommendations for this book came and I requested it as a present from my sister for Christmas. Heck I am so glad I did. Another lesson from this experience is always read the books people recommend you, if they are enough to be recommended they will probably help you grow. Vagabonding is part travel guide part travel philosophy. It gives you both the knowledge to get started and the desire to do so. Immediately after reading this book not only did I commit to going on the long term adventure which I’m currently on, but I read it again and again and again and took new notes each time. What a phenomenally inspirational read – if you need something to kick you off your ass and get started – it is this book.
I read this book in my few spare moments while working with monkeys and pumas in the Bolivian jungle. The ideas contained within are absolutely fantastic and super practical to everyday life – not just in regards to emotions but in regards to how we perceive the world, too. I have many plans for articles inspired by the ideas in this book, so stay tuned. Buying and reading this is totally worth it for the sake of the way it completely breaks down the paradigms of how we currently see emotions, their connection to real life, and neuroscience. It re-forms these experiences into a constructed, rather than classical, view of emotion. I didn’t get shivers until I was taking notes afterwards on it but when I realised how potent the ideas in this book are I could not help but immediately start applying them to my life and how I think. Get on it.
The only fiction in my list of 5, this short novel was given to me by a mentor. Get ready for your mind to be blown (if you don’t have much eastern philosophy knowledge, but probably even if you do). I think I’ve read this book four times in the last eighteen months since it was given to me and each time I learn something new. I remember the first time I finished the book I was walking back to my college room and I had this immense sense of peace and connection to everything. This book crafts your cognitive experience with such mastery that you’ll start believing you are inside it’s pages. It follows Siddhartha, the son of an Indian Brahmin (priest) who leaves on a journey of discovery. We can all see ourselves in Siddhartha as he reminds us to seek, that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that wisdom can only be earned for ourselves. Within this novel beautiful themes are contained for every stage of life that mean you will constantly have notes to take in response. This book was a big aspect of my spiritual awakening and I hope it can be yours too.
Well, there you have it. I don’t want to give you more that five books for now because I really want you to read them all and take on the valuable lessons they provide – I hope they will change your life as much as they have mine – comment which you plan to read first or if you have read any of them already and let me know what you think of them, I’d love to start a discussion!